Florida Gov Suspends Prosecutor Who OK’d DNA Testing for 78-Year Old Death Row Accused – New State Attorney Cancels Testing

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By The Vanguard Staff

ORLANDO, FL – A man here facing execution for a 1975 quadruple murder is still in limbo after the successor to suspended Orange-Osceola State Attorney Monique Worrell—who asked a judge for permission to test fingerprint evidence—withdrew the request recently.

Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis apparently has played a key role in the drama.

Tommy Zeigler, 78, was sentenced to death for the murders of his wife, in-laws and a customer inside his family’s Winter Garden furniture store, reports WKMG News 6.

Last year, a judge granted a joint motion filed by Worrell and Zeigler’s attorneys that gave Zeigler the ability to conduct DNA tests on dozens of pieces of evidence that have been locked up in storage since his 1976 trial.

WKMG NEWS 6 wrote the DNA testing, which is still underway at a private lab, is being done entirely at Zeigler’s expense, about $2,400. Worrell’s office filed a motion in March seeking to examine decades-old fingerprint evidence in the case at taxpayer expense.

Worrell’s request marked the first time since Zeigler’s conviction nearly five decades ago that the State of Florida had offered to test evidence in the long-closed murder case, according to Zeigler’s legal team.

“The State Attorney’s commitment to conviction integrity compels her and her Conviction Integrity Unit to perform a holistic review of Mr. Zeigler’s entire case,” Worrell’s spokesperson told WKMG News 6, adding, “Such a holistic review includes an evaluation of all the evidence collected, not just the evidence being analyzed for DNA.”

But, Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis suspended Worrell from office in August, citing in an executive order, why he believed Worrell exhibited incompetence and neglect of duty while serving as state attorney since 2021.

WKMG News 6 said Worrell has asked the Florida Supreme Court to overturn her suspension.

Andrew Bain, who was appointed by the governor to replace Worrell as state attorney, has not attempted to stop Zeigler from testing DNA evidence.

But during a brief status hearing late in December, Chief Assistant State Attorney Ryan Williams announced Bain’s office would be withdrawing the previous administration’s motion for fingerprint testing.

WKMG News 6 reported, “Williams did not explain to Circuit Court Judge Patricia Strowbridge why the state was no longer interested in examining fingerprint evidence in the Zeigler case.”

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